The most successful forms of marketing consist of more than trying out different tactics to see what works. It relies on a well thought out and planned strategy. While there are always elements of experimentation and adaptation in any form of advertisement, it’s essential for a business to generate a blueprint for its initial marketing strategy and move from there. While no two businesses are the same, all are able to take advantage of these execution points for customizing and creating an effective marketing strategy for a startup company.
Know the Key Demographic
The most important first step any startup can take when outlining an effective marketing strategy is to know their key demographic. Failure to identify the target audience will bring the entire advertising approach down before it has a chance to get started.
The more information a business has on its target audience, the easier it becomes to market to these professionals. Some businesses attempt to spread itself thin and reach as many demographics as well. This does nothing but water down the message and prevents anyone from connecting with the business.
It is impossible to follow through with breakthrough advertising without understand the target audience. All future content marketing hinges directly on this first and crucial step.
Segmentation helps in referencing a target audience. The four main segmentation approaches include behavioral, psychographic, geographical and demographical.
The geographical information includes a person’s country of origin, their region, the city they live on, how populated the city is, the kind of climate the person lives in and even where within a city they are.
A person’s demographical information is broken down into their age, family size, gender, income, education, race, nationality, religion, and occupation.
The segmentation for psychographic demographics includes a person’s lifestyle, social class, attitude, personal values and activities, interests and opinions.
Lastly, the behavioral segmentation includes occasions, the degree of loyalty, benefits, usage, user status and buyer readiness. This particular segmentation is trickier for a startup to know and instead it will learn over time. However, the more information from all the segmentation a business has on its target audience, the easier it becomes to craft customized marketing material made specifically for the demographic.
Nearly all marketing issues are, in some way, connected to the target market. According to Marketing Charts (2017), 35 percent of businesses said their biggest advertising challenge was reaching a target market in a compelling manner while 34 percent said the ability to accurately measure the objects of their target audience. 28 percent said their largest advertising challenge was simply getting the attention of the company’s target market.
Study the Market
Before making a big marketing push, a company needs to first understand if there’s even a market for what it plans on selling. If other businesses do not offer the product or service, is there a reason for that? Even if a company perfectly identifies its key demographic, if it doesn’t understand the marketplace it won’t do any good. This is where performing market research is crucial.
There are a number of helpful ways a business can perform market research before going live with its new product or service. As the charge below shows, there are several helpful methods for conducting market research. These groups include secondary research, survey requests, focus groups, conducting interviews, performing experiments in the field and observations.
When first starting off, a business should perform secondary research. This usually is Internet research as the company looks into similar products and what kind of success or failure it experienced. The initial research will help the business formulate questions to use in a survey, focus groups and interviews. After these different forms of outreach are performed it is possible for the business to move forward with the development of its marketing strategy.
The importance of market research cannot be undersold. In fact, understanding the market before launching a business is critical to success. If there’s no market for it, it doesn’t matter how great the product is. According to CB Insights (2018), 42 percent of startups fail because there simply isn’t a need for the product or service in the market. The next highest reason behind startups failing is running out of money at 29 percent.
Know the Competition
There’s nothing wrong with a little friendly competition. In fact, if another business offers something similar it’s a good sign, as it means there’s a market for the particular products and services offered by a company. However, it’s important for a startup to differentiate itself from the current business.
The competition will already have a leg up on a startup. With proper marketing, a startup can generate some opening buzz about itself and drum up initial interest, but this new-service buzz doesn’t last. Due to this, it’s important to know the competition and to educate the target market as to the difference between the current business and the newly arriving startup.
The best way to dive deeper into the competition is to use the SWOT Analysis method. As the graph below indicates, SWOT is short for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. A startup needs to identify these four areas of every competitive business.
Strengths are what the competition does well. It is what they thrive in and what helps set the business apart from the competition. Weaknesses are what the business does poorly or what it could do better. Opportunities are what options are there for improving upon what a business does in order to help it grow, while threats are what holes exist in the company’s business plan that might leave it exposed to the competition.
A startup needs to do this not only on all competing businesses but on itself as well. It may find it challenging to perform a complete SWOT analysis on itself before going live, but by going as in-depth as possible (while remaining honest to itself) a business will have helpful information to assist in crafting a marketing strategy.
Every Marketing Strategy Has a Budget
There’s no limit to what advertising can cost. There’s a reason major corporations have marketing budgets in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Naturally, a startup is not going to have this kind of money, yet without creating an upfront budget, the company might quickly end up overextending itself and paying what it does not yet have.
With so many different marketing options, it’s easy to develop grand plans, many of which might push the new company well into debt. That is why it is so important to map out an initial budget. As the business opens, money is brought in and the marketing shifts with what works, the budget can shift along with it. However, blindly jumping into the world of advertising without any budgetary lifeline is a quick recipe for failure.
This is also where understanding marketing trends can help a business determine where to budget its money initially before altering it to what works and what doesn’t. According to Marketing Charts (2017), 56 percent of businesses planned on increasing their social media marketing expenses in 2017. 55 percent of companies said they planned on increasing content marketing expenses, while 51 percent said they planned on increasing personalization marketing. However, nearly all other forms of marketing expected to see either a steady marketing approach or a decline in the money put towards the advertising method (including affiliate marketing PPC, sales enablement and lead management).
The graph represents a starting point for any new business looking to create a marketing budget. By following industry trends in marketing, it becomes easier to identify what might work and what may not prove beneficial early on. In the early months and years of a business, a considerable amount of learning and evolving will take place. This is why staying on top of marketing analytics is crucial to help a business succeed and thrive.
Create Social Outreach Avenues
Social media provides businesses with countless forms of free advertising. As a startup with a limited budget, it’s important to take advantage of all inexpensive and free lines of marketing. Social media opens up companies to key demographics while allowing followers to share the content with their own friends and followers.
Several social media platforms a business needs to sign up for include Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube. Social media marketing is one of the best, least expensive and most powerful forms of content marketing available to any startup, as it is free to create the accounts.
One of the benefits of these platforms is it is possible to post content to multiple sites. A blog post can be shared on LinkedIn, Facebook and linked on Twitter while videos may upload to YouTube and Facebook. This makes it easier to stay current across all platforms without creating unique content 100 percent of the time for every outlet.
Different key demographics do use different kinds of social media though, so this is another point where it’s crucial to know and understand what the company’s target audience is.
According to research conducted by the Pew Research Center (and reported by Rain News, 2018), YouTube stands as the most used social media platform for individuals between the ages of 18 and 24 (94 percent of individuals within this age range say they use the platform at least once a month). The 18 to 24 age range, on average, uses every major social platform in greater numbers than anyone else, with the exception of Facebook. Around 81 percent of those between the ages 25 to 29 use Facebook, while the 18 to 24 range sits at 80 percent. 78 percent of those in the age range use Snapchat while 71 percent use Instagram. The next highest age range is the 25 to 29 group, at around 55 percent for each.
One of the newest offshoots of Internet marketing comes in the form of influencer marketing. This is closely related to celebrity endorsement advertising, where a celebrity acts as a spokesperson for a product or service.
Most startup businesses are unable to afford such a celebrity spot. However, influencer marketing offers a valuable opportunity with an established Internet personality. As it’s possible to identify the demographics of an online personality’s following, a business can pay an influencer to showcase the product directly to their followers.
According to The Travel Vertical (2018), influencer marketing provides one of the highest returns on investments available. Based on influencer marketing totals from 2017, 86 percent of all marketers used influencer marketing in some shape or form. If those companies, 92 percent said they believed it to be a cost-effective marketing approach. In fact, for every $1 in influencer marketing, businesses saw a $6.50 return on investment.
Stay On Top Of Analytics
One of the most crucial steps in developing, maintaining and growing an effective marketing strategy is staying on top of the analytical data. Information is king when it comes to advertising, and the more a business knows about what’s working (or not working) the easier it becomes to update and evolve a current marketing approach.
A well-oiled marketing approach doesn’t need to cost a fortune. A business will understand where to allocate funds to well-performing advertisement avenues. Marketing becomes substantially more expensive when a business doesn’t monitor the analytical data and continues to pump cash into an underperforming form of advertising.
According to The Pixel (2018), the five most important marketing metrics a business CEO (both existing and startup) needs to monitor and capitalize on are Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC), Customer Lifetime Value (LTV), Website Traffic, Conversion Rate, and Social Media Engagement. Supporting analytical data helps to go into improving and identifying flaws within these five metrics, but by focusing on improving these five marketing analytics, it’s possible for a business to customize an effective marketing strategy and shift it as needed.
While social media platforms provide valuable outlets for a startup to market itself, it’s crucial for the business to determine what kind of content it will create and push.
Some of the most common forms of content produced include blogs, video promotions, informative guides, eBooks, podcasts, and webinars. In truth, there isn’t a wrong form of content creation. The more content a company produces the more potential avenues of attracting new customers and leads it may generate. However, some forms of content will prove more beneficial to a business than others. It often comes down to a company’s target audience (another reason why it’s so critical to correctly identify the right key demographic early on).
According to Digi Concept (2018), 73 percent of top content creators said their propriety is to produce more engaging content, while 58 percent said they want to better understand what content is most effective for their target audience.
Producing videos and writing blog posts do not always come naturally to a startup (especially when the startup is small and the business owner is not a content creator by trade). Some of the best video production copywriting tips are simply to keep everything short, to the point and focus on one topic per post.
By understanding the age demographics of a potential startup, it becomes easier to identify what might draw the most attention and generate the most interest. As Buffer (2018) points out, videos on Facebook receive three times the engagement as photos and double the number of interactions as blog links. While this is a small sample size, it shows the importance of knowing the target audience and what kind of content they are more likely to interact with.
No matter the products a startup plans to offer or its current location, formulating a marketing plan before going public will help connect the business with its target audience and bring in potential sales and leads. Each of these points will help a business of any kind develop a marketing strategy suitable for building a strong advertising foundation. From there, it’s then possible to expand, evolve and grow, both as the company learns more about its customers, itself, and what best connects the two together.